tv NBC Nightly News NBC March 3, 2011 5:30pm-6:00pm PST
on the broadcast tonight -- parallel universe. tonight we'll show you the strange world nbc's richard engel discovered today inside tripoli. you'd never know war is raging outside the city for control of libya. on the border. a rare look at the daily game of cat and mouse that the u.s. is fighting against drug smugglers. "america at the crossroads." tonight why america's losing some of the best and brightest and how to keep them here. and tired of it all. alarming news about a problem that impairs our economy, our health, our jobs, actually puts us in danger. health, our jobs, actually puts us in danger. "nightly news" begins now.
captions paid for by nbc-universal television good evening. the president of the united states is now on record. the longtime libyan leader needs to leave and change must now come to libya. this is how the president put it at the white house today. >> let me just be very unambiguous about this. colonel gadhafi needs to step down from power and leave. that is good for his country. it is good for his people. it's the right thing to do. >> of course, that brings us to the question about how to do that, how to finish what the libyan uprising has started. there's growing support for a so-called no-fly zone, but the defense secretary continues to warn americans that would first mean a u.s. air attack on libya. moammar gadhafi has lost control
of much of his country, but he's holding tripoli, the capital, which, as you're about to see, has become its own world as if trying to pretend everything's fine. our chief foreign correspondent richard engel went out into tripoli today. tonight we'll show you this odd parallel universe he found himself in. richard, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, brian. rebels have captured nearly all of eastern libya. tripoli itself is ringed by checkpoints, but in the center of the city, you hardly know it. we toured this former italian colonial capital all day. [ gunfire ] just a week ago gadhafi's forces brutally crushed an uprising here, killing protesters. today the city looks more ready for tourists than war. fresh mediterranean produce still comes in. there are plenty of buyers. even the pet market of colorful
songbirds is open. in tripoli's main market there is a feeling this conflict is very far away. people are out, shops are open, and at least on the surface, this city appears to be thriving. in the markets overflowing with dates and olives, it was also clear tripoli remains a gadhafi stronghold. >> gadhafi is very good man. we want gadhafi. >> reporter: as we spoke to university student mohammed baffel, gadhafi posters appeared almost instantly around us. people here have been told by gadhafi, the united states wants to invade and make libya into another iraq. they seem to believe it. in green square, flanked by an imposing medieval fortress, we found more gadhafi supporters like marwan al-zadi. >> he's not a president. he's father. >> we love gadhafi. >> we love gadhafi. >> we love gadhafi. >> reporter: zadi was still in
green square well into the evening, leading a demonstration. it was a festive rally, all broadcast live on libyan state tv. but it was small. there couldn't have been more than 200 people. nearby, graffiti against gadhafi was painted over. it's hard to know how deep gadhafi's support truly runs in tripoli, a city pretending there's no revolt happening at all. despite the veneer of calm, there is tension here. as we walked around today people obviously too afraid to talk to us did pass us secretly notes like this one. it says, all the people don't like gadhafi. freedom libya. there are also reports of detentions and arrests and disappearances. >> all right, richard engel in tripoli for us tonight. richard, thanks. meanwhile, moammar gadhafi continues his assault in the eastern part of the country, the territory he used to control. it's now in the hands of the rebels. he wants it back.
again today gadhafi's forces turned their fire on the town of brega. it's in the oil region and home to libya's second largest oil facility. nbc's stephanie gosk traveled there today. tonight, she is back in nearby benghazi. stephanie, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, brian. you hit on it. the fight right now is all about the oil. the opposition says they control 80% of libya's oil resources and that they are going to use the money they earn from it to fund their cause. gadhafi is showing that he is determined not to let that happen. fighter jets bombed the rebels in the east again today. causing more fear than damage, but reminding people here how vulnerable they are. the opposition forces guarding brega's oil terminal have no doubt gadhafi's ground troops will also attack again soon. the battle for brega started wednesday morning.
a fierce gunfight broke out in the sand dunes overlooking the mediterranean. by day's end, gadhafi's fighters retreated, leaving 14 rebels dead and many more wounded. ahmed was there. when did you learn to shoot your gun? >> just yesterday. >> reporter: the father of four with a master's degree in engineering proudly showed me his kalishnikov. but you're ready to fight? >> i'm ready to die. >> reporter: you're ready to die? >> yes, for my country. and for my people and for my kids. >> reporter: the fighters guarding brega gave us a rare firsthand look inside the massive oil facility here. first stop, a guest house riddled with machine gun fire. the oil industry relies on foreign expertise in libya. in this guesthouse in brega there were americans and british oil workers here during the attack. the rebels say they don't know what happened to them. the rest of the oil facility is completely shut down. the port, the tanks and the refinery.
the opposition says they are resuming production of oil, but production is just half the battle. they also have to export it. this is one of the most important port in libya and it's standing here virtually empty. hasn't exported oil in weeks. gadhafi says libya's oil facilities are safe and secure. but in brega, the battle is far from over. even as the dead are mourned, many more fighters are rushing in to take their place. the opposition has rejected an offer to negotiate. leaders here in benghazi say what's the point in negotiating until gadhafi steps down. >> stephanie gosk in libya for us tonight. stephanie, thank you for that reporting. during the day today, missing american robert levinson is apparently alive. and that word today from secretary of state hillary
clinton has cheered levinson's family members and colleagues who have never given up their efforts to find him. levinson, a retired fbi veteran, was in iran when he disappeared in '07 while working a job as a private investigator. his case received a lot of attention, enough so that we asked mahmoud ahmadinejad about it on our last visit to iran in '08. the news today from secretary clinton, not only is he believed to be alive, but he's apparently being held somewhere in southwest asia. in a statement his family said they are tremendously encouraged by the news that bob is alive, but, quote, they remain concerned for his safety and well-being. a high ranking visitor at the white house today. the president of mexico, a critical relationship for the u.s., one of cooperation and tension all focused on the brutal drug war. jose diaz-balart of tell mundo tells us what happened at washington at to day's gathering. >> reporter: brian, interesting conversations here between president obama and his mexican counterpart. president calderon said something i haven't heard mexican presidents say in the past, that parts of the u.s.
border should be sealed. he said it's a good way to mitigate arms and cash flowing from the u.s. into mexico and drug from flowing from mexico into the u.s. apparently in that deal, however, he didn't include stopping illegal immigration into the united states. and the tentative agreement that would open up u.s. highways to mexican trucks, a step that finally could put the u.s. in compliance with a 1994 north american free trade agreement would also mean mexico could eliminate taxes on u.s. products in to mexico. something the u.s. chamber of commerce says would be a boost to jobs. brian. >> jose diaz-balart from our sister network telemundo on capitol hill. high level talks are one thing, but on the ground at the u.s./mexican border, it's grinding, it's relentless war between u.s. agents and mexican drug smugglers. . nbc's mark potter reports from the border, rio grande city, texas, on the never-ending war next door.
>> reporter: sundown on the rio grande, and a truckload of mexican drug traffickers is in retreat after one of their vehicles loaded with marijuana is caught by the u.s. border patrol on the american side of the river. >> look at those guys right there. >> reporter: to avoid arrest, the vehicle's driver swam to the mexican river bank where the rest of the smuggling team disappears to try again another day. >> all those guys in the truck. >> all those guys were the scouts, the mules, the people they send across to see if we're in the area. >> reporter: in the last five months alone, border patrol agents in southeast texas have seized nearly 400,000 pounds of marijuana. this shipment was hidden in a pit in a neighborhood. >> there's one, two, three, four. there's at least four layers. >> reporter: on the u.s. side of the river. >> i've never seen it like this. i've been here for 23 years, and i've never seen the drug
trafficking as it is today. >> okay. >> reporter: drugs smuggled across the rio grande usually come in on rafts. agents say it happens day and night. [ whispering ] >> reporter: to track the smugglers, a rapid deployment team from rio grande city, texas, hunkers down along the river bank. border patrol agents monitoring the rio grande have to stay hidden and very quiet because the mexican smugglers are very cautious and move fast. they are also aggressive in protecting their drug loads. during car chases they'll throw out spikes to flatten the tire of u.s. agents and will even drive their vehicles into the rio grande. >> the truck's in the river. truck is in the river. and it's sinking. >> reporter: there other smugglers in rafts will try to retrieve as much of the drugs as they can before the vehicle sinks. >> we have ten subjects at the vehicle. >> reporter: a desperate game of cat and mouse all day every day along the u.s. border. mark potter, nbc news on the rio grande.
in germany tonight, the 21-year-old accused of opening fire on a bus full of american airmen yesterday was taken to court today under heavy security. two americans were killed in the attack. german officials say the suspect has confessed. they say he may have been motivated by radical islam, but he acted alone and is not connected in any way to a terrorism network that they know of. american military officials, however, say they are still investigating. when we come back here tonight, how our own rules sometimes end up hurting our own country. tom brokaw reporting on "america at the crossroads." and later, if you're feeling tired, you're not alone. new information on sleep in this country that some are calling today a wake-up call.
the large number of foreigners who come here, get educated in our great colleges and universities and want to stay here but can't. it's causing an expensive brain drain. tom brokaw back tonight with more on this. tom? >> reporter: we hear a lot about immigration issues that involve workers who come here from mexico seeking low paying jobs, but in the high tech world, there's another kind of immigration controversy. it involves the h-1-b visa. that's a permit allowing a limited number of highly trained foreigners to stay here for just a few years even if they're successful entrepreneurs creating jobs. critics -- and there are many -- say that restriction penalizes america and helps our economic competitors. look around the offices of snapdeal, an online coupon business, and it's not hard to see all the signs of a thriving venture. a young staff full of drive and ambition, a tote board on the
wall tracking new customers, one about every second. but snapdeal isn't in silicon valley. it's in new delhi. >> we link up with vendors in each one of the cities. >> reporter: 27-year-old kunal bahl and his partner launched snapdeal in february 2010. they're already the number one e-commerce retailer in india. >> snapdeal is a very simple concept. every day there's one very attractive deal. people come to the website, buy the deal, then go use it at the merchant. >> reporter: bahl's company has created 300 jobs and counting. but he sometimes wonders what if. what if the country where he got his education, at the university of pennsylvania, where he helped start a company while he was still in business school, had let him stay in the united states? >> i put my chips in the american basket and said that, let me try my hand here. >> reporter: but bahl's visa ran out. and so he took his skills back to india. the united states issues only
85,000 of the so-called h-1-b visas for highly skilled workers every year. these visas expire after six years. the san francisco bay area, the home of the silicon valley, stanford and berkeley, this has always been a magnet for the best and brightest from foreign lands, but now many are wondering why do u.s. immigration officials make it so hard for them to stay? >> they're strengthening our competitors. we're weakening ourselves. >> reporter: this professor has been warning of a reverse brain drain for years. >> there's a lot of very good human beings who are unemployed, who have lost their jobs. it's easy for them to blame foreigners. what they don't understand is that people like me, when i came to this country, i came here to study. my first company created a thousand jobs, my second company created 2,000 jobs. >> reporter: his research found between 1995 and 2005, 25% of the start-ups in silicon valley had at least one immigrant founder. and those start-ups created almost a half million jobs. u.s. immigration rules are big
roadblocks for the enterprising foreigners. >> everybody has stores to share about just quite how painful the visa process has been to quickly engage with customers, make sure that everything's developing and at the same time you've got this huge distraction on the side worrying whether you'll get kicked out of the country. >> reporter: a gathering of young silicon valley entrepreneurs center on their frustration over visas. how many of you think that you'll end up back in your home countries rather than staying here because of a visa issue? show me your hands. a number of you will go back and take the jobs with you in effect. and immigration officials often don't even understand the technology business. >> in our case, we got a beautiful letter from the immigration service asking to prove that we had enough warehouse space to store our software inventory. we don't even have boxes of software. it's all on the internet. >> why deal with all this old school immigration system, just go where we are wanted?
>> reporter: kunal bahl went where he was welcome, close to family and a newly vibrant india. >> there is no either/or relationship between the american dream and the indian dream. they can both exist. it's just that the guys who are building the indian dream right now could have been part of the american dream, too. >> reporter: almost everyone agrees that we do need immigration and visa reform, but that is a hot button issue in congress because of the undocumented workers at the bottom of the pay scale. meanwhile, the u.s. state department is encouraging foreign entrepreneurs at its outposts around the world. and kunal bahl, that young indian who went back home? he's now thinking of opening a branch of his company in this country. >> powerful story. heartbreaking at times. tom brokaw, thanks. our series will continue tomorrow night. when we come back, something else is disappearing. one of the last surviving perks on an airplane.
likes to crawl up mazda vents and then spin webs there. that can clog up the line, prevent vapors from escaping from the fuel tank, result in a crack and all create the risk of fire. all of this because of a spider. the recall applies to mazda 6 series model years 2009, 2010. it was one of the things you used to be able to count on when flying coach on continental. and that made it one of the last perks in the back of the plane. continental served free snacks, at least they did until tuesday. it's all over now. and they've actually made it sound like a good thing. in a statement continental, which is merging with united, said the snacks are going away, quote, in an effort to reduce costs and align ourselves with the rest of the industry. so in other words, to offer what the other carriers offer, which these days is not so much. when we come back here tonight, you can ask just about anybody.
our country and it even makes life in america more dangerous. and it comes down to this. watching the minutes turn into hours and knowing full well all the while it's happening you're not getting enough sleep. we learned a lot more about sleep today. some of which we haven't heard before. our report here tonight from nbc news chief science correspondent robert bazell. >> reporter: the experts say most adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep a night. but many people say they don't get it. [ rooster crows ] >> i would say like for 13 years i probably haven't gotten enough sleep. >> combination of long work days and a 3-year-old son who is a bit active at night. >> reporter: the centers for disease control today put new numbers on the problem. >> insufficient sleep has become a public health epidemic. more and more in the past 30 years we've seen an increase in the number of u.s. adults who do not get enough sleep.
>> reporter: the cdc polled almost 75,000 people in 12 states. more than 35% said they were getting less than seven hours a night. and they're more sleepless in hawaii than in any other state, for no known reason. nationwide almost 38% report they have dozed off unintentionally at least once in the past 30 days. at work or at home, that can cause problems, but on the road it can be deadly. the most frightening statistic, 4.7% of the people who responded, almost 1 in 20, said they had either fallen asleep or nodded off while driving in the past 30 days. the survey did not ask why people were not getting the sleep they need. but experts always name the same culprits. shift work, increasingly busy lives, ever more time on the internet and another big one -- >> my husband snores, and it's pretty bad when he's really tired. [ snoring ] >> reporter: the survey found
that fully 48% say they snore. making many wonder how some people get any sleep at all. robert bazell, nbc news, new york. that's our broadcast for this thursday night. thank you for being here with us. i'm brian williams. and we hope to see you right back here tomorrow evening. good night. his new job is to police the police, but is that possible when he used to be one? i'm traci grant. we'll dig into the potential conflict of interest facing the new d.a. coming up. shouting from the rooftops pleading their case. look at the video here. there could be another long night and vocal night for uc berkeley students, and now they promise to make it harder for campus police tonight.